The Christian tradition of pilgrimage has a long and rich history. Whether it’s to the Holy Land to visit the sites associated with Jesus himself or to a place of miracles and apparitions there is something about pilgrimage which appeals to the human spirit. There is something to be said for stepping out of the routine of our daily lives and setting out together with a common purpose especially a common spiritual purpose.
In ancient times pilgrimages were often difficult and arduous journeys involving travel by sea and land often for many weeks. In modern times the hardships have largely been replaced by coach travel to an airport, accommodation in good quality hotels, three meals a day etc., the hardship factor is greatly diminished. The rigours of weeks of travel have been replaced by the modest hassle of transitioning through airports with all the attendant security requirements etc.
Stepping off the treadmill of our routine lives to go on pilgrimage is a real opportunity to take stock, do some serious reflection and top-up our batteries so to speak. It’s interesting to note that the tradition of Pilgrimage is not something unique to the Christian tradition, many of the major religions have a similar practice. The Muslims travel to Mecca on the Haj, the Jewish people to the Holy City of Jerusalem, the Hindus have many places of pilgrimage also. The Pilgrimage idea seems deeply rooted in the human psyche.
One of the most popular places of pilgrimage for Irish Catholics has long been the French Pyrenean town of Lourdes. It was here in 1858 that a young girl out gathering firewood was to come face to face with our Lady. Between Feb 11th and July 16th of that year Bernadette Soubirous was to meet Our Lady on eighteen occasions. During those encounters she was asked to inform the church leaders of our Lady’s wish for a church to be built there and a place of pilgrimage established. While initially Bernadette was treated with scepticism and not a little disdain in time the truth of the apparitions was accepted by the church as worthy of belief.
St. Mary’s will this year run a parish pilgrimage to Lourdes. It will take place from Monday to Friday 27th May to 31st May. Accommodation will be at the Hotel Croix des Bretons which is close to the grotto area. The cost will be €549 with a €50 reduction when deposits are received before March 17th. A single room supplement of €120 will apply. This price includes Flights, hotel accommodation on a full-board basis, transfers to and from Lourdes Airport and the services of a courier/guide from Marian Pilgrimages Ltd.
Full details from Deirdre in the parish Office: 01 6217041
Fr. Philip Curran